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EN BANC

ATTY. OLIVER O. LOZANO G.R. No. 187883


and ATTY. EVANGELINE J.
LOZANO-ENDRIANO, Petitioners,
- versus SPEAKER PROSPERO C.
NOGRALES, Representative,
Majority, House of Representatives,
Respondent.
x----------------------x
LOUIS BAROK C. BIRAOGO, G.R. No. 187910
Petitioner,
Present:
- versus - PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SPEAKER PROSPERO C. CARPIO,
NOGRALES, Speaker of the CORONA,
House of Representatives, CARPIO MORALES*,
Congress of the Philippines, CHICO-NAZARIO,
Respondent. VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA, and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
Promulgated:
June 16, 2009
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RESOLUTION
PUNO, C.J.:
This Court, so long as the fundamentals of republicanism continue to
guide it, shall not shirk its bounden duty to wield its judicial power to
settle "actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part
of any branch or instrumentality of the government."[1] Be that as it may, no
amount of exigency can make this Court exercise a power where it is not
proper.
The two petitions, filed by their respective petitioners in their
capacities as concerned citizens and taxpayers, prayed for the nullification of
House Resolution No. 1109 entitled A Resolution Calling upon the
Members of Congress to Convene for the Purpose of Considering Proposals
to Amend or Revise the Constitution, Upon a Three-fourths Vote of All the
Members of Congress. In essence, both petitions seek to trigger a justiciable
controversy that would warrant a definitive interpretation by this Court of
Section 1, Article XVII, which provides for the procedure for amending or
revising the Constitution. Unfortunately, this Court cannot indulge
petitioners supplications. While some may interpret petitioners moves as
vigilance in preserving the rule of law, a careful perusal of their petitions
would reveal that they cannot hurdle the bar of justiciability set by this Court
before it will assume jurisdiction over cases involving constitutional
disputes.
It is well settled that it is the duty of the judiciary to say what the law
is. The determination of the nature, scope and extent of the powers of
government is the exclusive province of the judiciary, such that any
mediation on the part of the latter for the allocation of constitutional
boundaries would amount, not to its supremacy, but to its mere fulfillment of
its solemn and sacred obligation under the Constitution.[3] This Courts power
of review may be awesome, but it is limited to actual cases and
controversies dealing with parties having adversely legal claims, to be
exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited
further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis
mota presented.[4] The case-or-controversy requirement bans this court
[2]

from deciding abstract, hypothetical or contingent questions,[5] lest the


court give opinions in the nature of advice concerning legislative or
executive action.[6] In the illuminating words of the learned Justice Laurel
in Angara v. Electoral Commission[7]:
Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and
barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to
actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the
judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or
expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the
presumption of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not
only because the legislature is
presumed to abide by the
Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination
of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and
justice of the people as expressed through their representatives
in the executive and legislative departments of the government.
An aspect of the case-or-controversy requirement is the requisite
of ripeness. In the United States, courts are centrally concerned with
whether a case involves uncertain contingent future events that may not
occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all.[8] Another approach is
the evaluation of the twofold aspect of ripeness: first, the fitness of the
issues for judicial decision; and second, the hardship to the parties entailed
by withholding court consideration.[9] In our jurisdiction, the issue of
ripeness is generally treated in terms of actual injury to the plaintiff. Hence,
a question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a
direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it.[10] An alternative road
to review similarly taken would be to determine whether an action has
already been accomplished or performed by a branch of government before
the courts may step in.[11]
In the present case, the fitness of petitioners case for the exercise
of judicial review is grossly lacking. In the first place, petitioners have not
sufficiently proven any adverse injury or hardship from the act complained
of. In the second place, House Resolution No. 1109 only resolved that the
House of Representatives shall convene at a future time for the purpose of
proposing amendments or revisions to the Constitution. No actual
convention has yet transpired and no rules of procedure have yet been
adopted. More importantly, no proposal has yet been made, and hence, no

usurpation of power or gross abuse of discretion has yet taken place. In


short, House Resolution No. 1109 involves a quintessential example of
an uncertain contingent future event that may not occur as anticipated,
or indeed may not occur at all. The House has not yet performed a
positive act that would warrant an intervention from this Court.
Tan v. Macapagal presents a similar factual milieu. In said case,
petitioners filed a petition assailing the validity of the Laurel-Langley
resolution, which dealt with the range of authority of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention. The court resolved the issue thus:
More specifically, as long as any proposed amendment is
still unacted on by it, there is no room for the interposition of
judicial oversight. Only after it has made concrete what it
intends to submit for ratification may the appropriate case be
instituted. Until then, the courts are devoid of jurisdiction. That
is the command of the Constitution as interpreted by this Court.
Unless and until such a doctrine loses force by being overruled
or a new precedent being announced, it is controlling. It is
implicit in the rule of law.[12]
Yet another requisite rooted in the very nature of judicial power is locus
standi or standing to sue. Thus, generally, a party will be allowed to litigate
only when he can demonstrate that (1) he has personally suffered some
actual or threatened injury because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the
government; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and
(3) the injury is likely to be redressed by the remedy being sought.[13] In the
cases at bar, petitioners have not shown the elemental injury in fact that
would endow them with the standing to sue.Locus standi requires a personal
stake in the outcome of a controversy for significant reasons. It assures
adverseness and sharpens the presentation of issues for the illumination
of the Court in resolving difficult constitutional questions.[14] The lack of
petitioners personal stake in this case is no more evident than in
Lozanos three-page petition that is devoid of any legal or jurisprudential
basis.
Neither can the lack of locus standi be cured by the claim of petitioners
that they are instituting the cases at bar as taxpayers and concerned
citizens. A taxpayers suit requires that the act complained of directly
involves the illegal disbursement of public funds derived from taxation.[15] It
is undisputed that there has been no allocation or disbursement of

public funds in this case as of yet. To be sure, standing as a citizen has


been upheld by this Court in cases where a petitioner is able to craft an issue
of transcendental importance or when paramount public interest is
involved.[16] While the Court recognizes the potential far-reaching
implications of the issue at hand, the possible consequence of
House Resolution No. 1109 is yet unrealized and does not infuse petitioners
with locus standi under the transcendental importance doctrine.
The rule on locus standi is not a plain procedural rule but a constitutional
requirement derived from Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
mandates courts of justice to settle only"actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable." As stated in Kilosbayan,
Incorporated v. Guingona, Jr.,[17] viz.:
x x x [C]ourts are neither free to decide all kinds of cases
dumped into their laps nor are they free to open their doors
to all parties or entities claiming a grievance. The rationale for
this constitutional requirement of locus standi is by no means
trifle. It is intended "to assure a vigorous adversary presentation
of the case, and, perhaps more importantly to warrant the
judiciary's overruling the determination of a coordinate,
democratically elected organ of government." It thus goes to the
very essence of representative democracies.
xxxx
A lesser but not insignificant reason for screening the standing
of persons who desire to litigate constitutional issues is
economic in character. Given the sparseness of our resources,
the capacity of courts to render efficient judicial service to our
people is severely limited. For courts to indiscriminately open
their doors to all types of suits and suitors is for them to unduly
overburden their dockets, and ultimately render themselves
ineffective dispensers of justice. To be sure, this is an evil that
clearly confronts our judiciary today.
Moreover, while the Court has taken an increasingly liberal
approach to the rule of locus standi, evolving from the stringent
requirements of personal injury to the broader transcendental

importance doctrine, such liberality is not to be abused. It is not an open


invitation for the ignorant and the ignoble to file petitions that prove
nothing but their cerebral deficit.
In the final scheme, judicial review is effective largely because it is
not available simply at the behest of a partisan faction, but is exercised only
to remedy a particular, concrete injury.[18] When warranted by the presence
of indispensible minimums for judicial review, this Court shall not shun the
duty to resolve the constitutional challenge that may confront it.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions are dismissed.
SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO ANTONIO T. CARPIO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

(on official leave)


RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE


CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION DIOSDADO M. PERALTA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

* On official leave.
[1]
Article VIII, Section 1, 1987 Constitution.
[2]
Marbury v. Madison , 1 Cranch 137, 2L. Ed. 60 [1803].
[3]
Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936).
[4]
Ibid.